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Traffic Fatalities Fall to Lowest Level in Over 60 Years

Traffic deaths in 2010 dropped to historic lows. A variety of factors are likely responsible for the decline including improved technology, increased public awareness about safe driving practices and improvements in road engineering.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010, 32,788 individuals were killed in motor vehicle accidents. This is the smallest number since 1949, and a decrease of three percent from 2009. Although even one life lost on the road is too many, the decline in auto accident fatalities is an encouraging trend.

Ray LaHood, National Transportation Secretary, applauded the news, but indicated there were still improvements to be made, "We will continue to do everything possible to make cars safer, increase seat belt use [and] put a stop to drunk and distracted driving."

Car design and technological improvements have likely played an important role in decreasing traffic deaths. Advancements such as air bags, anti-lock brakes and stability control have served to both prevent accidents and increase the survivorship of those involved in collisions. New technologies that alert drivers if they drift out of their lane or closely approach another vehicle will hopefully continue to aid in car accident reduction.

Changes in road design have also contributed to decreased accident fatalities. These include rumble strips and three-strand wire medians which decrease deadly cross-median collisions.

An area of continued concern and focus for Secretary LaHood is distracted driving. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, between 2005 and 2009 distracted driving fatalities increased by six percent. Driver distraction is found to contribute to 16 percent of auto accident deaths.

Source: Traffic deaths in U.S. drop to lowest level since 1949, NHTSA reports

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